Daily brief: Pakistan, U.S. dispute militant’s fate

Facts on the ground American officials refused yesterday to confirm the death of al-Qaeda-linked militant commander Ilyas Kashmiri, even as Pakistan’s interior minister said he could "confirm 100 percent" that Kashmiri was dead (CNN, ET, Reuters, AP, AFP, NDTV). Officials were barred by tribal elders in South Waziristan from exhuming the bodies buried after last ...

AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images
AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images
AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images

Facts on the ground

American officials refused yesterday to confirm the death of al-Qaeda-linked militant commander Ilyas Kashmiri, even as Pakistan's interior minister said he could "confirm 100 percent" that Kashmiri was dead (CNN, ET, Reuters, AP, AFP, NDTV). Officials were barred by tribal elders in South Waziristan from exhuming the bodies buried after last Friday's suspected drone strike, preventing DNA testing to confirm their identities.

In Chicago, both sides rested their cases yesterday in the trial of Pakistani-Canadian man Tahawwur Hussain Rana, charged with allegedly helping provide cover for scouting missions in support of the 2008 Mumbai attacks (Chicago Tribune, AP, AFP). The defense called two witnesses before wrapping up, while the prosecution played a short segment from Rana's first FBI interrogation after his arrest (AFP). And the judge in the case asked if Kashmiri, indicted alongside Rana, should be taken off the charge sheet, though prosecutors objected, saying Kashmiri's death was not confirmed (AP). ProPublica has a useful round-up of their coverage of the case and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the group implicated in the attack (ProPublica).

Facts on the ground

American officials refused yesterday to confirm the death of al-Qaeda-linked militant commander Ilyas Kashmiri, even as Pakistan’s interior minister said he could "confirm 100 percent" that Kashmiri was dead (CNN, ET, Reuters, AP, AFP, NDTV). Officials were barred by tribal elders in South Waziristan from exhuming the bodies buried after last Friday’s suspected drone strike, preventing DNA testing to confirm their identities.

In Chicago, both sides rested their cases yesterday in the trial of Pakistani-Canadian man Tahawwur Hussain Rana, charged with allegedly helping provide cover for scouting missions in support of the 2008 Mumbai attacks (Chicago Tribune, AP, AFP). The defense called two witnesses before wrapping up, while the prosecution played a short segment from Rana’s first FBI interrogation after his arrest (AFP). And the judge in the case asked if Kashmiri, indicted alongside Rana, should be taken off the charge sheet, though prosecutors objected, saying Kashmiri’s death was not confirmed (AP). ProPublica has a useful round-up of their coverage of the case and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the group implicated in the attack (ProPublica).

In response to questions from Reuters released yesterday, the top Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) commander in Mohmand agency, Omar Khalid Khorasani, said that after the death of Osama bin Laden, "Our war against America is continuing inside and outside of Pakistan" (Reuters, DT). South Waziristan’s Ahmedzay Wazir tribes will keep a peace deal with the local Taliban despite Ilyas Kashmiri’s apparent death in the region (DT). And Pakistan and China have agreed to step up intelligence cooperation, as U.S. CENTCOM commander Gen. James Mattis met with Pakistani military leaders in Islamabad to discuss their cooperation (Dawn, Dawn).

Records obtained by the Express Tribune show that the cell phone logs for slain journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad for the 18 days before his abduction and death have been erased (ET). The Los Angeles Times yesterday examined the risks facing Pakistani journalists (LAT). And an anti-terrorism court in Faisalabad has acquitted 70 people in the burning deaths of eight Christians, stemming from a 2009 incident where attackers set fire to a Christian neighborhood in the city of Gojra (ET).

Drawdown

For the first time since President Barack Obama announced a "surge" of troops in Afghanistan in 2009, support for the war has increased, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll (Post). President Obama met with his senior advisers to discuss the war in Afghanistan yesterday, as military leaders and outgoing defense secretary Robert Gates urged a slowed-down withdrawal from the country (NYT, Times, Tel, Post, AP, WSJ, AFP).

The chairman of the UN’s Al-Qaeda and Taliban Sanctions Committee, Germany’s ambassador to the UN Peter Wittig, said this morning that the Taliban should be treated differently from al-Qaeda, as the committee gets ready to debate splitting their "blacklist" of Taliban and al-Qaeda figures in two (NYT, AP). And Afghanistan and Pakistan have completed the agenda for the opening meeting of the countries’ joint commission to promote reconciliation between insurgent groups and the Afghan government (ET).

Finally today, the AP looks at the shadowy world of informants who work with the U.S. military in Afghanistan’s provinces (AP). And Afghan officials have fired an appellate judge from the southern province of Zabul, reportedly due to corruption charges against him (Pajhwok).

Pumping iron

Afghanistan took first place this weekend at the 8th South Asian Bodybuilding Championship in Bhutan, with 10 Afghans earning gold medals during the contests (Pajhwok). Afghanistan has 1,150 bodybuilding clubs. 

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